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Thinking of counting on Amazon to pay the bills? Think again…

If you’re a fulltime author depending upon your writing to pay the bills and you’re putting all your eggs in the Amazon basket, think again.

Many of you followed my saga last week with Amazon, detailed in my previous blog posts. For the Cliff’s Notes version: I went after a notorious book pirate and partially crippled his ill-gotten ad revenue. In retaliation, he sent Amazon a complaint, falsely claiming to be the owner of one of my book covers. Amazon immediately pulled the book from the shelves, and even briefly disabled my entire account. It was next to impossible to speak to an actual person. My constituents in the Erotic Authors Guild¬†wrote strongly-worded letters as well.

Although the account was down for a day, the book itself wasn’t restored until this morning–over a week later. No apology was issued. Throughout the entire process, they were indifferent. They were willing to accept the unsubstantiated word of a known book pirate–who likely costs them thousands of dollars in lost ebook revenue. It was sickening.

The book in question is an earlier work of mine… it’s a short story, just 13 pages long, it has 2 1/2 stars review, and it’s probably sold a dozen copies if I’m lucky. In other words, not something I’d be likely to be holding up a sign in front of Amazon headquarters over.

But what if this weren’t the case? What if I were a full-time author, of the caliber of Carrie Ann Ryan, Jasinda Wilder or Shayne McClendon? And what if writing were my day job, and I counted on it to pay my mortgage? And, finally, what if the work in question wasn’t a low-end short story? What if it was my leading bestseller? And, what if, to make things even worse, I’d been foolish enough to list it in Amazon’s KDP Select program?

The answer, of course, is that I basically would have lost a week’s revenue. Not to mention a likely plunge in the book’s rankings, if and when Amazon bothered to correct their mistake. Ask anyone, in any job, if they’d mind losing a week’s pay. Think any of them will be ok with it?

Boycotting Amazon isn’t a viable option. If you want to be successful in this business, at least at this present time, you have to go through them. Smashwords nets an author about 1/3 of what Amazon does. But we also shouldn’t put all of our eggs into one basket. Explore some of those other options–and, for goodness’ sake, stay away from KDP Select. Sooner or later, people will grow tired of being mistreated and will start to look elsewhere.

The alternative is scary. Those highly successful authors whom you see? All it takes is one disgruntled fan, one jealous competitor. A single bogus complaint to Amazon can cripple your entire livelihood.


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